Status and Dilemma
Social attitude towards religious minorities in Pakistan is complex and influenced by various factors.
A country with a diverse population, there are several minority groups residing in Pakistan. The minority groups are of different kinds which include religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities, however, the largest religious minority in Pakistan is the Hindu community, followed by Christians, Sikhs, and Ahmadis. The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights and protection to all citizens, including minorities.
As the Hindu community is the largest minority group with an estimated population of over 2 million, most of them live in the southern province of Sindh. However, there have been cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls. In Pakistan, Christians are the second-largest minority group with a population of nearly 2 million. The Christian community is mainly concentrated in the Punjab province. In comparison to the above-mentioned communities, Sikhs are a small minority in Pakistan, with an estimated population of around 20,000 and most of them live in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. Ahmadis are a non-Muslim religious group that considers themselves Muslims, but their belief is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.
The global status of religious minorities varies depending on the country and region. In some countries, religious minorities are protected and enjoy equal rights and opportunities, while in others, they face persecution, discrimination, and violence. In many countries, the majority religion is dominant and has significant political, social, and cultural influence. This can lead to discrimination and marginalization of religious minorities, who may be seen as outsiders or even as a threat to the majority’s culture and identity.
In some cases, religious minorities face legal restrictions on their religious practices or beliefs, or are prohibited from holding certain jobs or positions. This can contribute to their economic marginalization and social exclusion. In some countries, religious minorities are subject to violence and persecution, including hate crimes, mob violence, and even genocide. In recent years, there have been reports of increased violence and discrimination against religious minorities, particularly in countries with political instability, armed conflict, or authoritarian governments.
Religious minorities also face threats from extremist groups that seek to impose their own beliefs and practices on others. These groups often target religious minorities, as well as other groups that they see as a threat to their worldview or agenda. Despite these challenges, there are also examples of countries where religious minorities are protected and enjoy equal rights and opportunities. These countries often have strong legal protections and policies that promote religious freedom and tolerance, and they may also have robust civil society organizations and advocacy groups that work to protect the rights of religious minorities. In a word, while some countries are making progress in protecting the rights of religious minorities, more efforts need to be done to ensure that all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, are able to live free from discrimination, persecution, and violence.
The writer is Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science as well as Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at the Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University in Madhepura, Bihar. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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